* Shanghai shares fall 0.6%; blue chips down 1%
* U.S. Navy says warships sail in South China Sea this week
* China’s Xi says wants phase-1 deal, but will fight if need be
HONG KONG, Nov 22 (Reuters) - China stocks posted their lowest close in almost three months on Friday amid concerns over deteriorating relations between Beijing and Washington after two U.S. warships sailed near islands claimed by China and as the United States backed Hong Kong protesters.
** The Shanghai Composite index hit its lowest level since Aug. 26 in intraday trade before settling down 0.6% at 2,885.29. It fell 0.2% this week. ** The blue-chip CSI300 index shed 1%, losing 0.7% for the week. ** CSI300’s financial sector sub-index fell 0.6%, the consumer staples sector was down 2.4% and the real estate index declined 0.1%. ** The smaller Shenzhen index ended down 1.5% and the start-up board ChiNext Composite index lost almost 2%. ** U.S. Navy warships twice sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea in the past few days, the U.S. military told Reuters on Thursday, at a time of heightened tension between the world’s two largest economies. ** China’s military confirmed on Friday that the two U.S. warships had sailed through the contentious waterways and urged the U.S. side to “stop these provocative actions to avoid any unforeseeable accidents”. ** The market accumulated losses this week amid concerns that Beijing and Washington may not reach a deal to end their trade conflict until next year. ** China wants to work out an initial trade pact with the United States and has been trying to avoid a trade war, President Xi Jinping said on Friday, but is not afraid to retaliate when necessary. ** Zhang Qi, an analyst with Haitong Securities in Shanghai, said negative news such as the bill on Hong Kong and the frictions in South China Sea weighed on the market. ** The U.S. Congress has passed legislation to back protesters in Hong Kong and threaten China with possible sanctions on human rights. President Donald Trump is expected to sign this into law in the coming days. ** Around the region, MSCI’s Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.1%, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed up 0.3%. ** About 15.86 billion shares were traded on the Shanghai exchange. The volume in the previous trading session was 12.35 billion. ** The Shanghai stock index is below its 50-day moving average and below its 200-day moving average. (Reporting by Noah Sin; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)